Navigating The First (Tough) Trimester of Pregnancy

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Pregnancy is wild. One day you’re feeling like a normal human and the next day you’re squatting naked in the shower over the shower drain wondering if you’re about to throw up your peanut butter protein oats. Every day is different and every person’s experience is different. Which is why I even questioned putting this post together. BUT I am lucky enough to have a decent-size following on instagram that have been helping me navigate this completely new experience. And that means I get advice every single minute of every single day. Luckily I’ve been able to wade through a lot of the noise to find the most helpful tips out there that have worked great for me, so I thought I would share them! You never know what little tip may make all the difference in your own unique experience.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I was about 5 weeks. The first thing that tipped me off, other than missing my period (DUH), was the insomnia I was having. I never have insomnia. But since nothing else had changed – I still had tons of energy, no food aversions, and not nausea – I decided I would eat as healthy as I could until my body told me differently. Leading up to pregnancy, I got really serious about my diet. I started eating organ meats, tons of leafy greens, bone broths, and meat off the bone. The more I read about proper nutrition for pregnant women and their growing child, the more I wanted to be fully prepped when that time came. So when it did, I knew I needed to be on top of my diet as much as possible until my body took control. And at about 7 or 8 weeks, it did. I couldn’t sleep at night, I was falling asleep sitting up in the middle of the day, and then the nausea really set in. At that point, I tried to eat anything that felt good in that moment. Sometimes that was chicken, sometimes it was peanut butter and jelly, and other times it was Chipotle. But no matter what my body was telling me, I tried to make better choices for my body throughout that change.

For example, one day I was sitting in my weekly acupuncture appointment when I literally HAD to have a sandwich right then and there. I called my acupuncturist in and told her that I needed to end the session early to find myself a sandwich. And then I went straight to my favorite gluten free bakery to get a gluten free turkey sandwich (yes, I’m still eating deli meat since I found out the stats – 1 case of listeria 83,000 servings of deli meat…check out Real Food for Pregnancy to find out more and cited articles on this topic). Instead of going to a chain sub spot, I found a local small business that uses ingredients that I am more comfortable with. Another example, when I could only stomach peanut butter and jelly, I used organic gluten free bread, organic peanut butter with nothing else but peanuts in it, and organic preserves. And whenever I could hide a veggie in something, I would. I made smoothies with frozen cauliflower rice and kale, and I started eating at Cava or Chipotle almost every single day because I was able to add veggies to those meals without any issue or thoughts of vomiting. The point is, I tried finding restaurants I trusted for meals out when cooking anything sounded horrendous. And I chose to eat foods that had a tad more nutrition in them compared to the cheaper options. Not every day was perfect and I often found myself thinking something would taste good then immediately couldn’t eat it, but I did my best each day. This isn’t to say your experience will be similar to my own, it may be MUCH harder and navigating food may be more difficult, especially if you’re incredibly sick. But for me personally, I tried to remind myself that I could always find a slightly healthier option when all I was craving was nachos, chili cheese fries, and donuts. Oh, and I definitely got myself that old fashioned donut that I had been craving for weeks. And it was glorious.

As for nausea, I mostly just fought through it. I’ve heard some brutal stories of nausea and vomiting through pregnancy, but I was lucky enough to only deal with the mild nausea that made all food sound terrible and vomiting early morning on an empty stomach. The nausea was pretty intense for a few weeks, but it reduced with time. As I fought through the roughest points of nausea without anything, everyone had a different remedy. B6 was in the top recommendations, along with ginger such as ginger chews, and peppermint tea. What I found worked best for me was eating OFTEN! Before pregnancy, I would simply wait until I was hungry then eat, but that’s a big no-go when pregnant. Because as soon as you’re actually hungry, that’s when the nausea sets in and it’s a vicious cycle of nothing sounding good, but needing food to keep the nausea at bay. I now eat smaller meals throughout the day and keep plenty of water and crackers by my bed for the middle of the night or early morning. The more I eat, the better I feel, so I’m sticking with that.

Something I was not expecting was…constipation. What a BUMmer. Since you have high progesterone, it keeps water out of the large intestines, really slowing things down. Not all women experience this, but mine has been brutal. When you’re already feeling off, nauseous, and your workouts suck; the real icing on the cake is you get hella backed up. And as a person who has never experienced this, it feels like I am already 20 weeks pregnant with how much my stomach sticks out. Luckily a friend recommended prunes and prune juice and that has worked (almost) like a charm, but I have trouble sticking with it since sugar is grossing me out. I’ve also tried 400mg of magnesium citrate daily with no avail, colace with absolutely no success, psyllium husk did nothing other than taste disgusting and make me gag, and glycerin suppositories don’t do much. I’ve heard this may alleviate once you enter the second trimester and I’m praying that’s the case. All this being said, nothing has worked for me, but hopefully one of these things work for you!

Another thing that hasn’t let up is the insomnia. From what I’ve learned, progesterone can spike in the middle of the night, causing you to wake up. That happens every single night at 1am and then I usually can’t fall back asleep. Sleep apps don’t help, sleepy time teas don’t help, and melatonin doesn’t help. BUT Unisom, which is safe for pregnancy, works about 1/2 the time, which I’m very thankful for! I had to learn the hard way that a full pill is waaaaay too much and I could barely function the next day, but 1/2 pill works great 1/2 the time. Whenever I do sleep, it has been my saving grace with keeping a cleaner diet and getting better workouts in!

And that being said, workouts have been ROUGH. Once the nausea set in and I could barely eat anything that had real nutrients in it, my workouts really suffered. So I decided to change things up – instead of working out 3x/week as hard as I could like I’ve been doing for a couple years, I started working out 5x/week, doing fully body days, and simply moving. It wasn’t about how much I could push it or getting the heaviest weights, it was simply about moving my body and challenging my muscles to some degree. I don’t go in with big goals or expectations, I simply see what my body is capable of. My goal and hope is to work out my entire pregnancy, if possible, to keep my body healthy, ready for birth, and prepped for recovery. Obviously so much can change and you never know what you’re going to get, but I’m excited to see each physical change along the way and see what my body is capable of, inside and out!

In the small, limited, PERSONALIZED experience I’ve had, the biggest thing I’ve learned is to listen, adapt, and accept. Every day is different and everyone’s experience is SO different. And something I’ve found incredibly helpful is accepting that my journey is my own and where I should be, while I accept the same things for others who are going through a similar time. I hope some of this information and experiences from me and others is helpful! And if you have your own tips and tricks, please share them in the comments below!!

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Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.

I’m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you don’t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.

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21 thoughts on “Navigating The First (Tough) Trimester of Pregnancy”

  1. Crystal Lee Marston

    Was the same for me that the only way too prevent the nausea was eat all.the.time! One time I found myself in a situation with no snack and out past my bedtime and I thought I was going to die! Keep eating, keep moving, you’re doing awesome! I’m so happy for you :).

    1. totally!!!! it’s so wild how often you have to eat at the beginning to keep the nausea at bay, it’s like getting to know a completely new body and person lol!

  2. For constipation, my GI has said 800 mg of magnesium each day is fine so I take 400 mg in the am and 400 mg in the pm. I think it makes me sleep better as well but for the sleep, I highly recommend tart cherry juice. 1 oz in the am and 1 oz in the pm can extend how much you sleep each night. It has worked great for me!

      1. Yes to what Joanna said! My midwife recommended splitting up the magnesium as well: 400mg with lunch then extra at dinner. I don’t think i need the entire 400mg at dinner, so i’ll just open the capsule & pour just a little extra in my mouth & wash down with water! I use this magnesium, recommended by my Naturopath: Brand – Swanson: Triple Magnesium Complex (magnesium oxide, magnesium citrate, magnesium aspartate).

        Also, have you heard of Mama Natural? I think you’d LOVE her. She sends out weekly, free updates. It’s like the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” but NATURAL 🙂 She talks about tart cherry juice as well. She covers all kinds of areas apart from pregnancy, babies, breastfeeding, etc.

        Juli – you were made for this. Praying you know God sees you & He created you & this widdle babe 🙂

      2. Innate response has a great high quality magnesium I use every night for sleep.(300mg)
        I’m sure you’ve also heard of Magnesium Calm. It’s magnesium citrate which I find to be the best for constipation. It’s also meant to be a gentle sleep aid so you get 2 in one. 🙂

        1. On Magnesium Calm – I LOVED this BUT! I found out there were studies done (posted on Mama Natural’s site re: magnesium) that some were found to contain arsenic. Not good for long term & I personally just pitched it after learning this…my husband and I did love it though. Sigh. Those were the days…

  3. Hi! Do you have any tips for making organ meats tasty? I tried beef liver and I just can’t do it but I do want to try others! I’d love to see a post on this.

    1. try liverwurst or braunsweiger! both have tons of spices in them and you cook them up like a sausage patty. you can purchase them at us wellness meats!!

  4. Smooth move tea saved me while pregnant – it’s sennakot (natural laxative) but in a tea. highly recommend, as nothing else worked for me either.

  5. I had all the same symptoms you had. I was surprised no one told me about them! The constipation got a lot better around 13 weeks for me. Also the food issues you described! I pretty much felt amazing in the 2nd trimester, then OK in the third, but a whole bunch of new stuff cropped up by 36w. But the nice thing to remember is it’s ALLLL temporary 🙂 You will go back to normal!

    One thing I was also surprised about was 24/7 discharge for LITERALLY 40 WEEKS. I hated it so so much. I’m 11 mo pp now and have forgotten about all this until you brought it up haha. That must be the body’s way of coping and having more children.

  6. So excited to hear about your journey through all of this. I admire the organ meat. I couldn’t do it but I just had my baby 7 months ago and am a vegetarian so it was out of the question lol. I worked out every day using your Power Program up until the day before I delivered. I delivered via C section, nugget didn’t want to flip, and I swear your program helped me to bounce back quick especially since my husband didn’t have any time off to help out. Thank you for that! Hoping to purchase your three day a week program soon once things normalize after having daughter, ha right LOL. Congrats again and can’t wait to see you add to your beautiful family.

  7. Sounds like you’re rocking it. I had to eat all the time too and anything sweet was absolutely disgusting. I lived on beef, vegetables, cottage cheese, gf bread with peanut butter. I had one really bad month and then felt progressively better. Another tip for organ meet is you can get dried beef liver in capsules.

  8. Thank you for being so open about your pregnancy! It is such a wonderful time but can also be a challenging time with things happening to your body that no one tells you about! Best wishes for a healthy baby and healthy you!

  9. Juli! Try your triple chocolate date balls! That is the key to moving things along. I can not tell you how GRATEFUL I was for you for those little gems. I rarely have time for the melted chocolate and I kicked off the chocolate chips right away because of the sugar but they are glorious for resolving for me the worst part of my pregnancy. BTW congratulations, I never judged you for your choice in not wanting kids-its a very private and personal choice. But I knew that should you make that decision you would be the best mom. You are inspiring, and thoughtful, and wise, and real. Not to mention very smart. Congrats I hope the best for you!

  10. I’ve had constipation my whole pregnancy (aside from the last few days, but I’ve read that’s normal as you get close to delivery… which I’m hoping is soon because I’m dying to meet our little girl) and aloe water has actually helped a lot. I was skeptical because aloe vera juice never did anything for me, but George’s Aloe Water I got off Amazon has been amaaazing and it tastes just like regular water, so I just add a little to my water. I’ll also second senna/senokot, but I think if Colace didn’t work for you, that likely won’t. I hesitated to take too much laxative stuff, but was told it was more important to stay regular, so I’ve been taking senna, aloe water, and 500+mg of magnesium oxide practically the whole pregnancy and that mostly helps.

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